La Boca: Buenos Aires’ Vibrant Neighborhood

Buenos Aires is composed of numerous barrios, or neighborhoods, each with their own unique vibe. This made it a lot of fun to extensively explore the city to see what each area had to offer. Let me tell you, we did A LOT of walking and wandering in order to see everything we could in the time we had. La Boca is one of the popular attractions of Buenos Aires with its extremely colorful streets and lively scene. If you’re looking for a great way to spend a day in the city, La Boca is a wonderful place to spend it!

The old, but bold buildings of La Boca
The old, but bold buildings of La Boca

Things to Know Before You Visit

A local told us that La Boca was over-hyped. But, as with anything while you travel, it is what you make of it and we had a good time that made the trip there worth it! Many others clearly think it’s worth it too because it was very busy and touristy. Whether people come for the tango, wildly colored buildings, or to support the popular Boca Juniors football team, this place is often the place to be.

However, multiple people also told us that La Boca is not the place we wanted to find ourselves after the sun goes down. As in any busy city scene, be aware of pickpockets, day or night. While walking the streets, a few eager artists, street performers, and restaurant owners will likely approach you. If you’re not interested in their offer, politely decline and continue on your way.

Colorful shops and alleys
Colorful shops and alleys

La Boca is busiest when there is a football game at La Bombonera stadium and during afternoons and weekends. There will be more restaurants open, more artists who have set up, and more visitors in the streets. If you are looking for a quieter experience, go in the late morning on a weekday.

Getting to La Boca

La Boca lies near a huge port along the coast just south of San Telmo neighborhood. The best way to reach La Boca highly depends on where you’re staying in Buenos Aires. You may be able to walk to it; however, we were staying inland a ways north, so we opted for public transport.

Bright murals and flowers

To travel by colectivo or Subte (subway) in Buenos Aires, you’ll need a Sube card. You can purchase them at some subway station kiosks or many convenience stores. These stores will usually have a Sube sign in their window and you can go straight up to the counter and ask for one. They cost about AR 75 pesos* plus whatever you want to load onto it to get around. We shared a card and loaded several USD onto it to get to and from La Boca.

We took bus #29; however, ask a local or your accommodation staff which bus to take since there are multiple that go to La Boca depending on where you are staying. When you hop on, tell the driver where you are headed and they will charge you accordingly when you tap your card. If you are unsure of where to hop off, try to sit near the front and have the driver let you know when you reach the stop near El Caminito. The bus dropped us near the port, and we caught it there again when we were ready to leave.

The port area near La Boca
The port area near La Boca

Taxis are also an option; however they are more costly. Unlike in most of the other cities we visited in South America, official taxis in Buenos Aires had a meter.

*When we were in Buenos Aires, a Sube card cost 25 pesos. We were told it is more recently around 75 pesos. This price has changed over the past couple years due to the drastic fluctuation of the Argentinian peso.

Exploring La Boca

Once we hopped off the bus, we headed away from the port towards El Caminito, La Boca’s most famous street. Here, we watched some tango, walked through a variety of shops and stalls selling trinkets and clothing, and watched a few artists at work. Beware that this street is a huge tourist trap, and many restaurants and shops are overpriced.

An incredibly talented artist in La Boca
An incredibly talented artist in La Boca
Many restaurants line the streets
Many restaurants line the streets

We also explored the surrounding streets, admiring the bold buildings, sculptures, and unique murals. The outlying streets were a little more affordable. We found a little hole-in-the-wall empanada shop run by two sweet ladies for lunch.

If you’re interested in experiencing more beyond the streets, attend a Boca Juniors football game or visit one of the museums in the area. Some options include Usina Del Arte, Fundación Proa, Museo de la Pasión Boquense, or Museo Benito Quinquela Martín.

Museo Benito Quinquela Martín
Museo Benito Quinquela Martín

Tours

If you’d rather have a more structured visit to La Boca, there a variety of tours that cover the neighborhood. Some are broader Buenos Aires day tours that have La Boca as a stop. Others allow you to bike through the neighborhood or visit the Boca Juniors stadium.

If you aren’t quite comfortable with public transport or your Spanish skills, a tour can be the way to go. This way, you can get to and from the neighborhood without any hiccups and learn more about the area along the way.

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